Rainier cherries are a variety of sweet cherry with a distinct golden yellow color and partial to full red blush. They originated in 1952 after Harold W. Fogel and other researchers from the Washington Agriculture Experiment Station in Prosser, WA crossed the Bing & Van cherry varieties.

Rainier cherries are the sweetest of all cherry varieties, with sugar, or Brix, levels ranging from 17 to 23 percent. They are delicate and have a juice that is second-to-none. In general, Rainier cherries grow a size or two larger than dark-sweet cherry varieties. They are best eaten fresh out-of-hand.

Stemilt harvests Rainier cherries in May in California and then again in July from Washington state.

Characteristics

Appearance: Attractive yellow with partial to full red blush

Texture & Firmness: Firm, fine & smooth

Internal Character: Almost colorless and juicy

Flavor: Super-sweet and delicate; Sugar levels range from 17 to 23% Brix

Shape: Slightly obovate, similar to Bing

Size: Very large; offered in few sizes

Uses: Rainier cherries are excellent eaten fresh or try using in this delicious crumble.

 

Rainier Cherry Crumble

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Dash of salt

3 pounds very sweet cherries, such as Rainier, pitted

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped almonds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

 

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in preheated oven; heat 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Combine cornstarch, juice, dash of salt, and cherries in a large bowl, tossing well to coat. Pour cherry mixture into prepared pan.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon salt) in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle flour mixture over cherries. Place skillet on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until filling is thick and bubbly and topping is browned. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Serve warm.

 

-- Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.